Pak Supreme Court scraps amendments made to anti-graft laws by PML-N previous Government

Islamabad, Sept 15: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday scrapped the amendments made by the previous government to the country’s anti-graft laws, as it announced its reserved decision on jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s plea challenging the changes to the law.
Last year, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party chief filed a petition challenging the amendments made to the accountability laws by the then government led by former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif.
A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah issued a reserved judgment by a 2-1 majority. Justice Shah disagreed with the majority verdict.
Annulling the changes, the court declared that amendments, like limiting the jurisdiction of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the anti-corruption watchdog, to the cases involving over Rs 500 million, were against the Constitution.
It restored corruption cases against public officeholders.
The court directed that the cases withdrawn after NAB’s jurisdiction was limited to investigating cases below Rs 500 million be fixed for hearing in accountability courts.
It also declared the verdicts issued by the accountability courts null and void in light of the amendments made to the laws and directed the NAB to send the record to the relevant courts within seven days.
The coalition government had made several changes in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ordinance of 1999 through the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act 2022, which Khan challenged in June last year.
These included reducing the term of the NAB chairman and prosecutor general to three years, limiting the anti-graft watchdog’s jurisdiction to cases involving over Rs 500 million, and transferring all pending inquiries, investigations, and trials to the relevant authorities.
After prolonged proceedings spanning over 53 hearings, the court concluded the case on September 5 and reserved its judgment, which was declared just a day ahead of the retirement of Chief Justice Bandial.
Bandial, who took office as the top judge in February 2022, would be retiring on September 16.
After the verdict, Khan’s lawyer, Shoaib Shaheen, said that the amendments were declared to be a violation of Articles 9 (security of person), 14 (inviolability of dignity of man, etc.) and 89 (power of president to promulgate ordinances) of the Constitution.
“The amendments were prepared by the Sharif family’s personal lawyers,” he alleged, adding that the changes were made for the benefit of certain individuals. (PTI)

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